It’s been a bit of a busy two weeks for me recently, catching up with some valued friends after a dry spell, so it very much felt like a random harvest, but certainly a bountiful one. This included a phone chat with a friend I don’t see very often because she lives much further afield, but you wouldn’t believe what we can cover in an hour and a half! (or maybe you can ;>)) As well as a trip out to a Scottish medieval castle ruin with a wild rural aspect, and some Italian renaissance-inspired ‘diamond’ cut stone work, which would have been considered the height of fashion at the time in the 1580s. After this sympathetically melancholic weather visit, with an overcast sky, and mournful drizzle on cold wet stone to dramatically evoke to our sensibilities the hard life of the times, we naturally went for lunch. After settling down at a carefully selected table, we began counting on our fingers (a lovely remnant of childhood) what we might have become instead of what we are now. That is, what professions or vocations would have been both feasible and attractive to us apart from art and writing, not having had a particularly clear direction in our youth on the course in life we were charting. Perhaps the visit to the castle had worked a little spell on us and got us reflecting upon our own pasts and what ‘could have been’. Well, we soon got past five alternative lives each, heading towards ten, but soon drifted off topic by musing on tangents, of which there are always so many – well at least for women, anyway ;>) And how many of us think of what we might have done in life instead, given the chance to begin all over again? Or how we may have come to the same place, but earlier, or differently? Inevitably, the idea of needing ‘nine lives’ like a cat arises.
Then with another friend, this week, we ended up talking about what we wanted our lives to be like in the future, at this juncture both of us being over fifty. Did we want to move elsewhere, as well as move on to some other work or work related to what we’re doing now? Would it be feasible, and what do we need or want that we’re not getting now? And how much of a free spirit can you really be in this world, anyway? There are no certain answers to these questions,but they’re great topics to discuss with friends who know each other well. Other topics can often be about respective family stuff, health niggles, endeavours and disappointments, as well as triumphs and personal conflicts. Pick a letter of the alphabet and women friends can take it from there! Maybe you could try it some time…
But when I was doing a volunteering activity with someone this week, I began to question (and not for the first time) what friendship is really about. They asked me, ‘how do I make friends?’
I sat there stumped, I mean, how do you go about answering this question? I certainly know it’s not that easy to make good friends. And you don’t make friends, like constructing them into what you want them to be, piece by piece, but rather you meet them, fully formed, where you find some kind of swift connection between you that may or may not be developed, depending on inclination or practicality. At this early stage it really is a 50:50 shared responsibility in developing the friendship. When I was younger I ‘made’ two friends at different stages in my life who dumped me for no logical reason I could fathom. Needless to say, I was hurt. But a little later on, I found my ‘best friend’, my future husband, so I consciously lowered my expectations for other potential friends as I knew I had (and still have) high standards. I began to cut some slack and make some allowances. And I know from talking to others I’m not alone in doing this. But knowing the vagaries of what making friends can be like, how was I to answered the question I’d been asked?
And friendship for more introverted types can be radically different than those between extroverts, and the mix of the two can be sink or swim. As creatives we may tend to be more of the introverted type and may have had the ‘too sensitive’ label to contend with. I’m pretty much in this camp, and I tend to affiliate myself with those of a similar nature. But how do you make friends?
Here is what I came up with.
First and foremost, make sure you like yourself, because if you don’t, how do you expect others to like you? The vibe won’t be right, you won’t be relaxed, you won’t be open enough to opportunities and serendipity. You may come across as too needy. Enjoying your own company is vitally important, because no matter how lovely friends may be, you still need to rely on your own inner resources. We are all, existentially speaking, alone.
Be yourself at all times; to thine own self be true. Pretending to be other than you are just leads to inner tension, conflict and misunderstandings.
And after all that, having done the personal prepping, you can join groups, workshops or do other activities you are interested in to meet like-minded people. When you are actually doing something, chatting can happen in a more naturally ‘on the side’ spontaneous way than being in a situation which requires more formal introductions, with questions like ‘And what do you do?’ and ‘Where do you live?’ arising. All that excruciatingly stilted stuff! In the shared activity scenario you can show interest in someone, you can be a good listener. And that can get something going. But if it doesn’t, you move on.
Finally, the reality is that making friends that last for you, is a case of quality more than quantity. Because it requires reciprocal effort, reliability, trust and honesty. You value them highly, for their strengths and their all too human flaws, as they value you in the same way in return. You can tell a true friend anything and they will be there for you, as you are there for them. In this way, friends can be for life.
A random harvest of quotes:
The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when. (Simon Sinek)
One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood. (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)
A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself. (Jim Morrison)
This last one says it all for me.
I’m taking a wee week’s break from posting and will be back in two weeks. Not going anywhere though, as to why, well that can be the topic for another time!
Cheers all, and happy creating :>)
(Pic from pixabay)